Monday has become my favorite night for television with Terminator, Prison Break (guilty pleasure, I know) and Heroes.
he first collection of the online comics added to my understanding of the first year, now DC has released Heroes Volume Two, $29.99, that collects chapters 25 through 38 of the webisodes, based on the second season.
I still prefer to hold a comic in my hand and read it, turn the pages, get that comic book smell, so I rarely read the webisodes. That’s why the hardbound graphic novel feels so right.
It’s the perfect companion to the television series, which seems to be getting as confusing as an issue of Final Crisis and has as many characters. I don’t object to new characters, but I want to get to know more about the characters I already like before trying to figure out new ones. This is where the book comes in. It’s a chance to learn more about everyone and put the show in focus.
These are cool stories! Including some new characters like Betty, the unattractive high school who casts powerful illusions and gets revenge on the “Mean Girls” of her school. But she pays a terrible price.
Ando, Hiro’s buddy, gets a solo adventure.
The origin of the power leeching Haitian explained a lot about his powers and his characters and an early adventure of Maya and her brother explain a lot about their relationship.
The hardbound book features background stories that explain the characters, delve into their histories, look at the relationships, which only makes the show more enjoyable.
The regular characters from the show like Hiro, Sylar, Claire, the Petrelli brothers and Suresh are all in here along with some familiar faces from the second season like the electric girl Elle; Maya, the South American girl who can kill with a look, and Claire’s flying boyfriend, West.
The stories in the book are written by comic pros and writers from the show, led by Joe Kelly, Joe Casey. Steve Seagle, Oliver Grigsby, Timm Kepler, Jim Martin and J.Y. Krul. Michael Gaydos illustrated a ton of the stories, along with comic mainstays like Tom Grummett and Ryan Odagawa.
This illustrates just how much the show owes to comics, and vice-versa.
Quite simply, if you’re a fan of the show you need to pick up this book.
On a completely unrelated topic, I had a blast at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Md., a few weeks back. It’s an excellent example of how cool a small comic convention can be.
I drove to the show with DERF, a Cleveland area creator and one of my collaborators on Tales Of The Starlight Drive-In.
The biggest names of the SPX were folks like Fantagraphics and Top Shelf but even more interesting were the little guys. I mean the real little guys, many of them self-publishers.
After the big cons like San Diego and Philly, it was refreshing to have the time to really look at some of the offerings from the folks who barely and rarely get space in comic shops or Previews.
Starlight went over well in a crowd used to less commercial comics, that is, comics without capes and cowls.
It was a little exhausting hanging out with Derf and his comic buddies like Ruben Bolling and Tom Tomorrow because I could never keep their real names straight. Let’s see, Bolling is really Ken Fisher and he does a hilarious strip called Tom the Dancing Bug (seriously, check it out) which has nothing to do with bugs, dancing or otherwise.
Tom Tomorrow is really Dan Perkins who writes a politically savvy (and often savage) strip that sometimes features a penguin in sun glasses. For obvious reasons.
Then there’s DERF himself, who’s really John Backderf, but is called Derf by everyone, including his wife who works with me at the Plain Dealer. He’s riding high these days with the brilliant Punk Rock and Trailer Parks which was released the week of SPX. How’s that for timing?
An admitted high school buddy of Jeffrey Dahmer, Derf has a dry sense of humor and, like many artists, is far more reserved than people might expect judging from his work.
Punk Rock and Trailer Parks is a great book, a giant OGN about a delusional band geek who actually becomes cool during the brief punk heyday in Akron, Ohio. Even cooler is that Derf reprised his lawnmower riding Elmo character he introduced in Starlight.
I was getting neck pains and ear strain trying to keep up with the conversations of these guys along with the singly named Ted Rall. Neck pains because everyone is like eight feet tall and I’m … not.
But it was great to hear their stories, most of which unfortunately I can’t repeat because they involve strange events best left not discussed.
One of the treasures I found among the small press guys was a series called Gabagool, written and drawn by Mike Dawson and Chris Radtke and drawn by Dawson. It’s about a group of Italian guys in New Jersey doing all kinds of goofy Jersey stuff.
It started off as a mini-comic but with issue four turned into a regular-sized black and white comic with a color cover. The three-issue storyline, “Hedonism” follows the guys to a resort in Jamaica where anything goes. Just guessing here, but my sense is that the story is based on real events.
It reminds me a little of Joe Matt’s Peepshow books, back when Matt was actually working.
Did I mention it’s a mature readers book? It is, so hands off kids.
Check it out at www.mikedawsoncomics.com
Derf and I were set up next to a guy with a harder name to pronounce than mine: Andre Szmanowicz, the creator of a cool book about a skateboarding society called Groove Junction.
The entire time he was there, Andre was drawing and inking a project for Image Comics, which looked really cool. The poor guy only looked up when someone asked him for an autograph. The amount of time he spent on giving people free sketches was amazing.
Look for his work, he’s going somewhere.
This was my first SPX con and I must say that Derf was right, it was great. There’s something exciting about a con where there is so much new material and so many different styles. Next year, I’ll bring more money and a larger suitcase.